Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game – an immersive cooperative game

Battlestar Galactica: the board game

An immersive cooperative board game with traitors.

It’s not often that a board game made from a movie or TV show turns out great. There have been many attempts, but nothing comes close to what Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game delivers.

It’s easy to slip a well-known pop-culture brand on a popular board game. There are plenty of Monopoly, Clue, and Risk board game variations available that tout titles such as Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Harry Potter to name a few. But they simply slap on some familiar names and photos and call it a game. Same game, just different images.

Branching out into new board game territory with a popular media brand is a trickier proposition.

I’m happy to report that Fantasy Flight Games knows how to to it right.

Battlestar Galactica: the board game

You’ll definitely want to play on a bigger table.

Battlestar Galactica delivers a complete new game experience that wonderfully matches the character and feeling of the TV series. It’s a semi-cooperative game where we all work together to achieve victory…except for the traitors. And there will be traitors. Hidden traitors.

Some that may not even know they’re traitors until midway through the game. It’s awesome.

There are many reasons why we love playing Battlestar Galactica, but one of the great things about it is that players don’t even need to know the TV series to really enjoy it.

Just ask our boys. Of all the people I’ve played the game with (my boys, their friends, and their cousins), I’m the only one who has seen the TV series. But it hasn’t hindered them one bit from loving playing the game as well.

Battlestar Galactica: the board game

Defend the fleet from Cylon raiders.

We’ve all thoroughly enjoyed the game every time we play.

I’ve been waiting a long time to post a board game review of Battlestar Galactica, so today’s a happy day.

This is the longest video review we’ve done. And it’s not just because I’m long winded. Since there’s a lot going on in the game, we actually approached our review differently.

In the first 6 minutes of the video review, I cover an overview of the game, our impressions, and share my rating. After that, I dive into the details of how to play the game. We really wanted to share that level of detail because that’s where the depth of the game shines. But we’ll totally understand if you just want to get a taste by only watching the first portion.

What is Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game all about?

Battlestar Galactica: the board game

Players choose from an array of characters with unique abilities.

Battlestar Galactica is such an immersive cooperative board game, that it’s well worth the couple hours it takes to play. That’s right, it takes 2 to 3 hours to play a game. But you won’t even realize that much time has passed.

In Battlestar Galactica players take on the roles of characters aboard Galactica who are searching for a new planet for humans to call home.

Why?

Because the Cylons (machines first created by humans) have destroyed their home planet. The humans aboard this fledgling fleet of spaceships (military & civilian) are all that’s left. Except that not everyone aboard is human…

Battlestar Galactica: the board game

Who will the Cylons be?

Some are actually Cylons in disguise. Because Cylons have learned how to appear human.

So while everyone works together to save the human race, there will be some hidden Cylons among them – who won’t want to cooperate so much.

If the humans can get to their destination, they win. But if any of the resources (food, fuel, morale, population) are depleted, Galactica is damaged too much, or the Cylon boarding party of Centurion guards get too far aboard, then the humans will lose.

Battlestar Galactica: the board game

Move to different locations to activate different actions.

So not only do the players need to battle Cylon ships and avert crises to survive, but while doing all that they also have to detect the hidden Cylons and lock them up to reduce the harm they can do.

It’s a tense journey the whole time.

And we love it!

 

Hidden traitors who don’t even know themselves

One of the absolute best parts of Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game is the 2nd loyalty phase. There are other cooperative board games with a traitor in the midst – Shadows Over Camelot for instance. However, in all those games, the traitor knows who he/she is from the beginning.

Battlestar Galactica: the board game

Players will face many crises along the way.

But in Battlestar Galactica, that may not be the case. You may be fighting FOR the humans during the first half of the game and AGAINST them in the second half. And it’s that possibility that adds another layer of intrigue throughout the game.

At the start of the game, every player gets handed a secret loyalty card that indicates whether they’re a human or a Cylon. But once the fleet gets halfway to its destination, an additional amount of loyalty cards are handed out. Once again players will see if they are human or Cylon. If either of the two cards (some characters may actually have 3) says you’re a Cylon, then you are indeed a Cylon and you want the humans to fail.

Why does this matter?

Because Cylons can remain hidden and thwart progress.

Battlestar Galactica: the board game

Knowing who collects which types of Skills cards can help detect the Cylons in the group.

Many of the crises in the game require a Skills Check to pass. All player may contribute cards into every Skills Check. These are done secretly. So when Skills Checks fail (and bad things happen) there will be plenty of finger pointing as to who the traitors/Cylons are.

If players suspect a Cylon, they can vote to throw them in the Brig – where their ability to contribute to Skills Checks will be diminished.

Having a 2nd loyalty check means that as the game gets closer to the end, the tension and suspicion will ramp up as well – building to a great crescendo.

Throwing players in the Brig while Cylons ships are surrounding Galactica destroying civilian ships is a hairy situation. And a lot of fun.

Battlestar Galactica: the board game

Revealed Cylons can work to deplete the resources even faster.

Of course, Cylon players can also Reveal themselves. Once they feel like they can wreck more havoc as a revealed Cylon, they’ll take that chance. Because revealed Cylons then get new locations they can visit to cause other actions to occur – none of which will be good for the remaining humans.

And all of this is so well developed in the game that the players get totally immersed and time flies by.

 

Can the whole family enjoy Battlestar Galactica?

Not everyone in the family will enjoy Battlestar Galactica. In our family, it’s just the boys.

Battlestar Galactica: the board game

The President gets additional, special cards and the Admiral gets nukes.

But that doesn’t mean that only boys and men will enjoy the game. There are plenty of girls and ladies that enjoy the game as well.

It’s also a game better suited for kids over 10. The recommended age is 10+ so this game of intrigue isn’t targeted toward youngsters. But Caleb has joined in our endeavors since he was 8 and he loves it as well. I’ll also be the first to admit that I’ve been fooled by his ability to play it straight.

 

Getting familiar with the rules

Battlestar Galactica is a game where we always have the rules handy. It’s not just because there’s a lot going on in the game. But rather because we don’t play as often as we’d like and we want to make sure we’re not missing anything.

Battlestar Galactica: the board game

Can the humans make it all the way to Kobol?

The good news is that there are some summary sheet player aids online that really help. Sometimes a simple reference sheet is all that’s needed to stay on track with what we need to know for the different elements of the game – such as the order of succession of the President and Admiral, steps players take when they reveal themselves as Cylons, or the die result during combat.

The rules summary sheets we use come from The Esoteric Order of Gamers. We’ve downloaded their rules summary sheets for a number of games because they’re so easy to follow. Likewise, their summary sheets for Battlestar Galactica are terrific.

 

And then there were expansions…

Like so many other great board games, Battlestar Galactica has also spawned game expansions. It’s really not a surprise since the modern Battlestar Galactica TV series (beginning in 2003) ran for 4 seasons and introduce new characters and twists along the way.

Battlestar Galactica board game

Bring on the expansions!

The original board game was released in 2008 and those that followed are:

While we haven’t played any of the expansions yet, they’re definitely on my radar.

 

How does Battlestar Galactica score on the “Let’s Play Again” game meter?

Battlestar Galactica scores high on our “let’s play again” meter, but not like other games.

As we just mentioned, we don’t play the game very often. However, every time we play, we very much look forward to the next time we’ll play and talk about who else we want to introduce it to.

Battlestar Galactica: the board gameBecause the game lasts a couple hours and is always more fun when playing with 5 or 6 players, we’ve just found it hard to get those things to align. Sure it would be great if we could talk mom and Brooke into playing so we could have 6. But they’re not interested. So instead, we look for long weekends where we can set aside the time and invite some friends to join us in the fun.

For the last 3 years, we’ve become regular at playing Battlestar Galactica over the Thanksgiving weekend. It’s an event we excitedly look forward to.

Speaking of which, when are we going to play again? I hope soon…


The Board Game Family Game Ratings
Caleb: 5 Meeples Caleb
  Has not played Brooke
Jaden: 4.5 Meeples Jaden
Trevor: 4.5 Meeples Trevor
  Has not played Mom
Dad: 4.5 Meeples Dad
Average: 4.5 Meeples Average



 

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